I attended my first photography conference at the beginning of the month, Showit United 2017! I am so glad my friend Denis Karis let me know about it! It was a big investment for me so I kept putting it off, but then they announced Jasmine Star would be there and a discount so I just HAD register! I prepared for the conference with a list of people I wanted selfies with, items I wanted to improve on, and ice breaker questions so I could make more friends in the industry. What I wanted most from the conference was CONFIDENCE. I gained so much confidence! But not that way I thought; I thought I would be learning industry secrets that would give me a boost. I only learned a few unique tips. What really gave me confidence was hearing industry leaders talk about overcoming hard things, seeing that they are just people too, and by far making so many new connections with other photographers! Here are some big ideas inspired by the conference.
It was so amazing to give Katelyn James a hug and hear her speak. She is my wedding photographer role model!
In a 5 minute fuel speech, one photographer told the entire conference (over 300 photographers) that she had once lost some images from a wedding! Absolute worst nightmare for any photographer right there! But, she was able to recreate those images and the clients still referred her to everyone they knew. Absolutely incredible! That would not have happened though if she did not have a stellar client experience. Years ago, I thought word of mouth marketing happened from giving a referral incentive like a free product or discount when a client referred someone else to me. Or even having the BEST images. It is not! It is all about the experience-having as many points of contact with your client as possible, exceeding expectations by under promising and over delivering, and surprising them in a good way often. I have written out my client experience and really scrutinized it since the conference. I have added several more touch points where I send notes and gifts now-just small gestures that are going to have a big impact. I also signed up for ShootFlow from Zach and Jody Gray that is absolutely amazing because it lists an awesome client experience and has the calendar in place for you already! I want to build such a great relationship with my clients that if something went wrong, they would still love me and my work!
Along with having a clear outline of my client experience, I wanted to make sure I was using my time as efficiently as possible. Almost every speaker talked about outsourcing-which could be personal like cleaning, or photography related like editing, or even business related like administrative work. I am still not in a place to outsource through hiring someone, but I want to soon! I have created a business plan for growth so I can handle more weddings and offer more services in the future. I plan on outsourcing-cleaning, dinners, editing, accounting, and getting a marketing assistant to upload photos to social media to start. For now, I am outsourcing by using technology. Shootflow will really help with my calendar tasks so I don’t have to set those all up on my own for each new client. It also has email templates to save me time as well as provide a consistent client experience. I also looked into Dubsado (I tested serveral studio management software you can read about here) . I love using all the features of Shootproof currently though for contact management, contracts, and payments. I am also testing out social media pre-scheduling softwares so I can get that done faster as well as posting more consistently. Efficiency allows me to be prompt with my clients, while also letting me have more time for my family. I really connected with Abbey Kyhl and her philosophy-way better to spend money than time on marketing. She has is a momma too and only takes weekday weddings! Such an inspiration!
To be honest, I got married younger than I thought I would and we had kids earlier than I imagined. But, if I had started this business before my kids, I would have been a workaholic. I was a workaholic in high school and in college-in every club and also working to pay for school. It has been hard to run my business with toddlers. It is so easy to compare myself to photographers without kids thinking that they have it easier than me-but this conference helped me realize that I have broader perspective now. My kids force me to make time for family and separate myself from my business. I feel like I am starting my business with a mature perspective as a mom. It forces me to be efficient!
Act The Part
All of the speakers talked to us like we have all been in business for awhile and were established. Everyone I connected with treated me like I was an amazing photographer and business owner. Far better than I thought I deserved since this is my first year in business and have only shot a few weddings of my own. Attending the conference was a sign that I cared and am serious about my business. I realized I have to act like I am already at where I want to be-then I will get there. I want to blog, post on instagram and post on Facebook like I have 100k followers. I want to photograph like I am shooting $50,000 weddings. I want to run my business and speak like I am already making 6 figures and am on my way to 7 figures!
I also need to treat everybody like they are a somebody. I want to treat other photographers that ask me for advice or attend my workshops to feel like they already are amazing. I love helping people, but I have been putting off setting up workshops, mentoring, and styled shoots because I felt like a nobody. This month, several photographers reached out to me though asking for advice. I am so excited to be putting together another part of my business to educate and inspire other business owners. I don’t know that I would have had the confidence to have done this so soon without this conference.
Me before the Black and Gold Gala courtesy of https://gayledawnphotography.com/
Stories bond us! Stories are what create relationships. They are they key to selling our services. I need to be better about having a story caption to go with my images when I post them on social media not just “Isn’t this pretty?”. Especially since we as photographers are STORYTELLERs! Our job is literally to document other’s life stories (and we should document our own of course)! I decided I want to document what I am doing with my business from now on-the good, the bad, the research- so when I make it big I can say check out my blog archives and you can see the hustle! I also want to start doing more videos so I can connect with my clients.
Me dancing with a mustache at the Fiesta De La Party
I learned so much about communication. I am an introvert and tried my best to connect with as many new people I could. I really watched and listened to how other people spoke because I want to be better at that. Entrepreneurship can be lonely, especially when you are a single owner-when I try to talk about business with my husband or friends they are not nearly as excited about all the things my new CRM can do or my latest blog post strategies haha. It was so re-energizing to talk about big dreams with people that are going through the same hustle!
I really loved hearing the founder of Showit’s wife, Elisa Watson, talk about being lazy in communication. She is a peacemaker like me. I will give in to avoid confrontation instantly, but that is the lazy, easy way out. We need to do hard things. We need to put ourselves out there and build relationships the right way!
I was totally star struck meeting all the industry leaders I have been following online. It was super grounding to meet them to see they are just people too! It let me know that if they can make it, I can make it too! The awesome thing about it being in Arizona, there were a lot of AZ photographers there so I am so stoked to be collaborating with them soon!
Showit United 2018
If you are a portrait or wedding photographer-this is the conference you need to go to! I don’t even have a Showit site yet and had the most incredible time. This conference inspires and connects. Everyone hugs each other-seriously-it is basically required- https://showit.co/united-hugs. Click that link and thank me later! I was totally blown away by the honesty and values of the people that were there. The speakers were not sleazy salesman who had some get rich quick schemes-they were people that have worked hard and focused on serving others to get where they are now. I was considering going to WPPI, but probably will not now. It seems like the polar opposite of SHOWIT. It is all about competition-who has the best photograph and about vendors trying to sell you photography equipment and tools.
Wow, you made it to the end of my novel! I have a whole notebook filled with ideas, but just wanted to give you the best parts! I wanted to close with this-I went to this conference for you! I wanted to learn how to be a better photographer, business owner, and friend so I can better serve you. I really believe investing in myself and my education is giving me the ability to help others way better than I ever could on my own.
2 PRO TIPS if you do go to Showit United next year
- Stay at the venue! I did not since I live here so I could save some $$$. I wish I had stayed at the hotel though because it was exhausting to travel back and forth. I also feel like I missed out on extra bonding time with other business owners.
- Wear boots! A lot of out of towners don’t realize that all Arizona plants prick you! It is still warm in November, you may only need a light jacket, but boots are needed for walking around in the desert especially if you have a styled shoot.
I hope to see you at Showit United 2018! I already got my tickets!
Cheers to blurry cell phone pics-I gotta get better at my selfie game obviously haha
From top left to bottom right
1-Attending Ryan Lindsey’s gorgeous styled shoot. Her work is incredible and she is amazing!
2-Zach Gray teaching Ben Hartley how to arm wrestle! These two are such business rock stars!
3-Jasmine Star and JD– She is my first teacher, I have all her creative live courses!
4-Abbey Grace– Love her classic red lipstick and hope I can photograph ballerinas as beautifully one day!
5-Katelyn James-My role model, I love her inside and out!
6-Abbey Kyhl-I love her marketing strategies and how she runs her business to maximize time with her family
7-Love Birds Styled Shoot at United-yes those are tiny paper cranes!
8-Amy and Jordan Demos-I took their shooting and editing course, so neat to watch them become parents
9-I won an external flash trigger-long range baby
Unless otherwise credited: Photos by http://cassiakarin.com/Love,